The 5 Styles of Accountability

By Krista Large – January 1, 2023

Throughout my coaching career, I’ve identified five accountability styles that I use on my clients and myself. Understanding these styles, and which ones you might lean toward, can help you achieve your goals, whether it be in nutrition, wellness or fitness.

Here are the different accountability styles and real-life examples of how I’ve seen them work!

Style #1: Partnership Accountability

Women working out together.

Sometimes the difference between you following through or not is having someone else in it with you!

In 2020, the fitness activity tracking application Strava reviewed user data and saw an uptick in training volume around the first of the year (to be expected); they also noticed a significant decline just after the two-week mark on Jan. 19. Strava named this “quitter’s day” after those who abandon their New Year’s resolution goals. 

When Strava surveyed the data, they interviewed users to see what made the difference for those who stuck to training and found that those particular users had training partners — someone with whom to swim, bike, run or do other activities.  

​Style #2: Reward Accountability

This style is for the person who keeps their eye on the prize.

One of my clients had a habit of eating food off her kids’ plates. She’d have a bite of french fries here and a few gummy snacks there. These bites of food may seem small, but they added up and threw off her body composition goals.

Man rock climbing.

I challenged her to print a calendar for each month and give herself a gold star for each day she didn’t eat off her kids’ plates. I also had her identify a prize she wouldn’t normally buy for herself; she decided on a deep tissue massage. The objective was to fill the calendar with 30 gold stars that month, which could be the price of one massage! It was just the level of motivation she needed, and the prize kept her accountable. She also reached her body composition goal.

​Style #3: Consequence-Driven Accountability

This month, I proposed a bet to one of my clients. His goal is to complete 30 days of drinking water, tracking food and exercising for 45 minutes per day. My goal is to film myself on Instagram daily. Every content creator knows generating content daily can be just as hard as working out!

The stakes? If either of us fails or quits, the person who quits pays the other $350 for the mistake. Upon writing this, we’re seven days in, and I likely would’ve given up in three days. Because the consequences are high, I won’t quit.

Style #4: Mentor Motivation

Man coaching woman.

​I take one-on-one Spanish lessons three times per week during the day via Zoom. It’s incredibly challenging to switch tasks, speak and learn another language, and hop back into working. I keep showing up each week because I pay someone to show up for me! We have an agreement, and he cares about my success just as much as I do. Because of that, I show up — especially when I don’t feel like it!

Style #5: Deadlines

​​In 2018, I wanted to learn how to swim for distance. Rather than just saying I wanted to do this, I signed up for a half-Ironman race this summer. This deadline wasn’t changeable, forcing me to learn, train and develop skills in the allotted time frame. I might have never developed the skill without the race holding me accountable.

No matter your accountability style, getting someone else involved is the best way to achieve your goals. When you keep your goals to yourself, it’s easy to hide and not achieve them because how would anyone know if you didn’t?

​Take action and do this today — enroll someone into your pursuits, and tell them your goal, when you need it, why it’s important to you, and what the consequences or rewards could be in achieving or not achieving the goal. Bonus points if you have money involved in some way; when we pay, we pay attention! The number one reason people hire me as their coach is for accountability.

What’s your type?

About the Author

Krista Large smillng.

Krista Large is a nutritionist, habit coach and online fitness trainer. Her passion in life is teaching others to dream big and live large, which starts with health. Large is an Ole Miss Rebel and runs her own brand and business based here in Austin, Living Large Wellness.


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